The charismatic tenor saxophonist and composer Jan Harbeck has previously released four albums in his own name on Stunt Records. He’s won a Danish Music Award, as well as having received both the Bent Jædig and Ben Webster Prizes. Harbeck and his steady band of many years have long been an important presence on most of Denmark’s jazz stages, also enjoying great success around Europe. Over the last decade, the band’s releases have been among the absolute best-selling Danish instrumental jazz records. In addition to his own quartet, Jan Harbeck plays with orchestras including the Tivoli Big Band, Niels Jørgen Steen’s Monday Night Big Band, The Orchestra, and in drummer Snorre Kirk’s band.
Harbeck’s expressive, outgoing playing continues in the great Swing tradition. Completely original and extremely stylish, he’s a musician who digs deep and understands the importance of presence. Few others are able to blow so much soul into a jazz ballad. As Thomas Michelsen wrote in Politiken, “we once had Ben Webster to awaken the soul. Today we have Jan Harbeck!” It’s actually strange that the 43-year-old tenor saxophonist didn’t release a tribute to “Big Ben” before now – the legend lived in Copenhagen for a number of years, is buried there, and continues to inspire – but here it comes.
Jan Harbeck cherishes the sound. Standing in front of a band on stage or in the studio, with his eyes closed and his left pointedtoe dress shoe all the way forward, he listens to the sound of his tenor saxophone and the group’s sound as a whole. “When I was young, I concentrated on what I was playing; now the music comes by itself; the sound and tone are the essence for me. It needs to be full-bodied and the feeling has to be there. Ben Webster was my first inspiration, and then Paul Gonsalves. It’s the tradition I love. It’s about playing from the heart. It’s a sound, a language,” Harbeck says.